Category Archives: Helpful Thinking

You Can Do This!

Fighting and managing depression can seem like a daunting task. I know as I feel overwhelmed at times. You don’t need to stay stuck in depression. You can take action. Any action is better than inaction and isolation. Get out of yourself and do service for others. The others can be others with depression, or they can just be the downtrodden in need of support. The women in World War II rose to the challenge and went to work (Rosie the Rivetter pictured here). You can rise to the challenge of doing something to help with your depression.

Easy does it, but do it!
– Slogan heard in AA meeting

If you’ve read any of Tony Robbins work he recommends taking massive action. Being in the depths of depression what does massive action look like? Here are some things that when you are in the depths of depression that are massive actions:

  • Have a sleep regimen. Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time every day. I’m not expecting you to be an early riser, but have a routine.
  • Making your bed every time you get up from bed.
  • Personal hygiene. Take a shower. Shave (wherever appropriate). Brush and floss your teeth.
  • Wash, fold, and put away your laundry.
  • Clean the bathroom.
  • Wash the dishes (machine washed is fine) and put them away.
  • Get dressed. My recommendation is to the level of business casual. You will feel like you have more of a purpose.
  • Get outside and take a 20 minute walk.

Put these little regimens into your life. Why did I use the word regimen?

regimen: a manner of living intended to preserve or restore health
Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/regimen

No one likes regimen. You are doing it for a purpose. You are attempting to restore health and sanity into your life. As you begin to do these things your depression will lighten, albeit very slightly. The slightly lighter mood will enable you to do even more massive actions. These future more massive actions will have an even greater impact on your depression.

What will those more massive actions look like? I don’t know, that depends upon you. Take the little actions of regimen. You can do those little things. Your depression will lessen even if it’s a mere one tenth of one percent. Accept the challenge, you can do it!

Then you can do even greater things that will have a greater positive impact on your depression.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Strands vs. Steps

OK we all know the metaphor of the steps. They are an ever increasing ascent into sobriety. But is that the only metaphor that we can use for recovery?

I think not. I’m a big fan of trivia, and I have a thirst for the esoteric. One image that comes to my mind about recovery is the act of rope making. Thread is woven together to make yarn. Yarn is woven together to make twine. Twine is woven together to make rope. As the strands come together the result becomes stronger and stronger.

We start off with Step One, our first thread of recovery. It is the beginning of our recovery and a necessary part of it. Admitting powerlessness is a difficult undertaking. I think I have power: I am the master of my domain. Nothing is further from the truth. We can quibble over whether powerlessness is 0% power or is it 1% power, or some other single digit percentage of power. The bottom line is that we have very little power in our lives. Admitting powerlessness is a turning point in recovery. Something, somewhere, a power exists, but it is definitely not within us. Powerlessness is not the same as helplessness or hopelessness. It means that we are fallible and flawed beings. That is not a condemnation of our state of being, merely a statement of truth that we are fallible and that we need help.

Step Two is then woven in with Step One. Step One is still there, but we are now adding the additional wisdom of another spiritual principle. The most beautiful words in the English language are “Came to believe”. We see that there is a way out of our pit of depression. This power, this Higher Power can restore us to sanity. What does sanity mean? Well let’s look it up:

sanity – the quality or state of being sane
sane – proceeding from a sound mind
Sourcehttps://www.merriam-webster.com

Can we say that being in a state of depression is “proceeding from a sound mind”? I would say it is not.

Step Three is then woven with the other 2 strands. Turning our will and lives over to the care of the God1 of Our Understanding is a very hard idea to wrap your mind around. There is a saying in recovery: “Surrender to win”. Surrender is not about giving up. It’s about accepting fully to your current reality. You need help and your Higher Power can help if you’re willing. Remember that it is God’s will and not your will. You have it within your right to ask for things, but it is up to God1 to decide what is going to come to fruition.

Step Four is then woven in with the preceding strands. Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves is a difficult task, but a necessary one. We need to put down on paper what we have done, both right and wrong. Don’t just include your liabilities, but also include your assets. You haven’t been all bad, and neither are you all right. Have the courage to write is all down. You won’t die because of it.

“Admitting to God1, ourselves, and another human being…” is necessary as well. Step Five is about humility and sharing deeply about ourselves with another. Some people say: “I don’t want to confess my sins to another”. Confessing is not about supplicating yourself on the alter of forgiveness to escape damnation. The origin of the word confession is “testifying to the truth”. State clearly and concisely what has brought you to the state of depression.

Now that we have taken our inventory we can follow the guidelines of Step Six and make a list of all of our shortcomings. We can surrender these to the God1 of our understanding and become entirely ready to have Him2 remove them. This is not about beating yourself up, it’s about having the humility to admit where you have fallen short.

Which brings us to Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him2 to remove our shortcomings.” We can ask to have our character defects removed, but it is up to Him2 to decide which character defects will be removed. When asking to have your shortcomings removed end your petition with “Thy will, not mine be done”. Which ones will be removed is not up to you, it is up to Him2.

Step Eight is about making a list of all persons we have harmed. We don’t have anything else to do just yet. We are merely making a list. Don’t get ahead of yourself, you are not at Step 9. Focus on making the list.

“Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”. Step Nine can be very frightening. If you are afraid to start making amends then I suggest that you talk to your sponsor. You may have created a terrible situation in your mind that you discover after talking with your sponsor that you don’t need to make amends to that person. Don’t avoid this step – it has amazing healing ability. A weight will be lifted from your shoulders. Making amends is not about begging for forgiveness. It’s about admitting what you did hurt another person, and that you are striving not to make that mistake any more. You can start with the easy amends and work your way towards the more difficult ones.

Step Ten is the next strand: “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” The longer you are in recovery the more prompt prompt becomes. It’s all about not creating a further wrong that needs to be fixed with another Step 9. Admit you were at fault. You will be glad you did.

If you’re in a hole, quit digging.
– Will Rogers

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God1…” brings us to Step Eleven. It’s all about seeking that deeper relationship with your Higher Power. The seeking is what is important. There will be times you feel connected to your Higher Power and there will be times that you are in a dark night of the soul and you don’t feel the presence of your Higher Power. Don’t beat yourself up that your relationship with your Higher Power ebbs and flows. That’s what it does.

Yes it is important that you have had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps. The critical thing with Step Twelve is “..we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Be of service to others. Help someone else. Not for accolades, but rather to pay your blessings forward that you have been pardoned from the prison of depression.

You have woven a rope of recovery. It is so much stronger than the single thread that you began with. You are free from depression, and with this rope you can move great obstacles in your life.

Notes:

  1. Here I mean whatever you conceive your Higher Power to be. It could be God, or Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or Universal Truth, or Love, or any other conception. Your conception of your Higher Power is yours and yours alone. It is just a whole lot easier to write it in the shorthand term God. Please don’t be offended.
  2. Using the pronoun Him does not mean that God is definitively masculine, it’s just a shorthand way of referring to your Higher Power. Please don’t be offended.

Courage To Change The Things I Can

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having fears, facing them, and taking action. I know that I can be overcome with fear. My depression manifests as a deer in the headlights. I am stuck in inaction. The hardest part is getting started.

Break whatever project you are procrastinating on into small manageable pieces. Start attacking and accomplishing those smaller tasks. Some people say to tackle the low hanging fruit – to start off easy. Some people say to tackle the hardest task first – the one that you are dreading the most. If you can handle the hardest task then you should be able to handle the rest.

Does it matter which way you start? The answer is a resounding no. What matters is that you take action, any action. Start, start NOW! It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake by going into action – you will have momentum on your side, and you can accomplish much more.

Choose action. Pick something, anything that is productive and gets you one step closer to your goal.

You will experience fear, it is to be expected. Have the courage to feel the fear and do it anyway. You may not feel better instantly, but you will feel better eventually.

If you are overcome with fear to the point of inaction don’t worry. Be gentle with yourself. Breathe through your fear and set the task aside for a few moments. Don’t have the attitude of no never, but instead have the attitude of no, not right now. Revisit the task that you put aside. Don’t get trapped in avoidance as you’re merely putting the fearsome task aside for a few moments. Catch your breath, and dive back in.

Be gentle with yourself, but do it!

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Now That I Look Back

Now that I look back and see the way I was and see how I am now, I can’t believe that I ever knew that other person. This person is different altogether. I like this person now very much. I am so thankful to the group. They are just wonderful. They are my family. They are my Depressed Anonymous family. I also have my church family. It is a wonderful,l feeling to know that there is a Higher Power that can help you through these things. At first, I thought, “I doubt that very much” when everyone was talking about the Higher Power and peace in my life. Then it happened to me. Every few days, the world dumps down on you and beats you down. That’s just life. I always think to myself that there is that extra strength that I didn’t have before. I feel that everything is going to be OK with me. I have that peace now myself.

An excerpt from Bill’s story in PERSONAL STORIES from Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition.(2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY Page 147.

Making decisions

Doubt invariably rears it’s ugly head when suddenly we realize that we are lost. This has happened to me when I was driving across a mile long bridge and I needed to turn around and go back. But there is no place to turn around. What can I do? All I can do is to keep driving. I have to accept the consequences. I knew the first five minutes on the bridge that something didn’t feel right. I realized that this large metropolis, with a myriad of its bridges, that I had chosen the wrong bridge.

I believe that making the wrong decisions in our lives is part of why we end up in the wrong place. We are lost. We tell ourselves that we “shoulda” or “woulda” or “coulda” done it differently.

Or for the alcoholic, berating himself for taking that one drink too many. Or the addict shooting up–just one more time. And one more time. And one more time. But if you are fortunate like me, I didn’t spin the wheel one more time and hope that I might get the rush and win the prize. Not this time.

If this is where you are in life right now–on the bridge, and realize that you are lost, please take a good look at why you feel lost. And if you want to find your way, out of the darkness of depression, you’ve come to the right place.

Learn more about Depressed Anonymous, a 12 Step program of recovery, and if you are depressed, we can help you.

Hugh, for the fellowship

What’s in your mind today?

How about talking about character building today. Ok?

In our book, I’LL DO IT WHEN I FEEL BETTER, there are some short paragraphs, explaining how character is built in our own lives.

” And how does one build character but by learning the tenets of one’s own faith traditions or practices and trying to live them out in one’s own daily life. It is in the simple process of being willing, honest and open about the best paths to take in overcoming our negative life attachments that trust can be attained.

…Character can be built by truth and the willingness to list the truth in ourselves. It can be a painful search but it will reveal that it’s all right
to be imperfect and not have all the answers and not to be perfect. It’s all right to trust others with our deepest fears and hurts, and to know that we can still be loved and respected even though we share how bad and evil we considered ourselves over the years. It will be evident in time that one’s feelings of deep sadness did not come out of nowhere but indeed was the result of the way we were led to believe and think about ourselves.

I believe that I can honestly say that the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous
say it best when they point out the basis of trust in ourselves comes about when our purpose and mission in this life begins to be realized. We are now on a different basis: the basis of trusting and relying upon God rather than our finite selves. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us do, and honestly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

Every member of every 12 Step fellowship is aware of the power of the following prayer, which in itself has been found to produce and promote the growth of trust in the lives of those who pray this prayer:

” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

RESOURCES:
Copyright(c) I’ll D0 It When I Feel Better. 2nd ed. (2013) Hugh M. Smith Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.KY. Pages 82-83.

Copyright(c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd ed.(2012) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY. Page 79, Eighth Step.

THE BOOKS LISTED IN TODAY’S RESOURCE CAN BE “ORDERED ONLINE FROM THE DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS BOOKSTORE” HERE AT WWW.DEPRESSEDANON.COM.

Depressed Anonymous is available in E Book format and can be downloaded.

YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE! Something good can happen to you today!!!

“Let’s listen to that long denied part of us that speaks out in favor of change, – that voice of hope that says we will feel cheerful one day. The small part of us that says that we should risk going to this meeting and admit that yes, I am depressed and yes, I am going to find my way out of this prison by taking stock of my strengths and by beginning to want to hope. You do have a choice. You can begin to let go of your fears of what life will be like without this constant gnawing feeling inside of you that produces that awful jitteriness. You will find lots of acceptance from the group as you listen to the many ways others like yourself have surrendered their problems to their Higher Power and have begun to find a peace and sanity that they never thought existed. The old tapes in your head will whisper that there is no hope for you, that no one is as badly off as you are, and that nobody will want to help you as you don’t deserve anything anyway. Often these old tapes have been with us since childhood and many of our adult depressions have their roots in our childhood. Many people do not remember much of their childhood, but repressing memories does not mean that the emotions belonging to these experiences in childhood disappear.

copyright (c) Depressed Anonymous,3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Pgs. 36-37. Louisville, KY
DAP Box 465, Pewee Valley, KY 40241.

Focus On Your Stars – Not Your Scars. Strength Survey

“What do you remember as strengths before being aware that you are depressed? Going to Depressed Anonymous meetings (now on ZOOM and SKYPE) has the potential to restore your sense of proportion about your strong points. At the meetings your friends in the fellowship will begin to tell how you are showing improvement the more you are participating in the meetings. To listen to those who themselves are working the program and who share their lives week after week, you begin to realize that you too can begin to feel differently. Today can be a new start and yes, you do have it within yourself to be that person who is reversing old negative patterns of thinking and replacing them with thoughts of hope and optimism. You now believe that there is hope for yourself. Right now your strength seems to be that of maintaining a habitual way of thinking thoughts of hope. By the fact that you are reading this, takes the strength to want to feel good and continue to maintain a positive recovery. Begin now and reflect on your strengths. Believe that you have a way to maintain them each day. Your personal strengths maintain a personal persistence and desire to continue with gratitude this new feeling of hope.”

As a therapist I would usually start my counseling session with a few questions for the counselee. I would ask them to write down five or six things that they liked about themselves – strengths. Invariably they would sit there, notepad in hand, watching the hand on the wall clock, gradually moving forward. (I might add that this question and answer session would not be too difficult for most of those who came for counseling) But for the depressed, it is a different story. Most could be unable to list any strengths on the list. I would ask them if they needed a little more time? Usually not. I would then tell them that just coming through the door to see a counselor showed immense strength. I told them that seeking help probably is a strength that could open up more doors for their own healing and serenity.

My final session always concluded with the question that started our sessions together – asking them to list all their strengths. The answer this time was quite different. No surprise to me.

Depressed Anonymous meetings can all provide the same help in giving us a look at our newfound strengths. Come to a F2F meeting or an Online meeting and discover this for yourselves. You will be happy that you did.

Resources

Copyright © Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. Hugh Smith. (2020) Louisville. KY. Page 57-59. (The Eleventh Way).
Copyright © The Depressed Anonymous Workbook(2002) Depressed Anonymous Workbook. Louisville. Ky.
Copyright © Depressed Anonymous,3rd ed. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

I will make a daily inventory of all my strengths

Believing Is Seeing: 15 Ways To Leave The Prison Of Depression – Eleven

I will make a daily inventory of all my positive strengths. I tended to magnify the worst in everything in my life and make mountains out of molehills. I will focus on my stars and not my scars.

“One of the problems of being depressed is that every circumstance and situation is filled with potential hurt and disappointment. The depressed person has a tendency to think in patterns of despair, hurt, and disappointment. It appears to be a proven fact that the more a person keeps their fears and anxious thoughts to themselves, this can cause the mountain to grow larger. But by sharing these fears and thoughts with others, either by writing them out, as in a daily journal, or group discussion (like on SKYPE and ZOOM) we soon discover that our fears are not as big as we thought. The expression of fear many times decreased the size of their fear. Now that we are accepting ourselves we can begin to see that we possess the strength and persistence to tackle whatever obstacle lies ahead.

One of the features that stands out in our lives when depressed is we see everything in dark colors. Nothing looks hopeful. There does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel – except that it might be an oncoming freight train. We feel that we do not have a friend in the world. We feel that we’ll never feel good again. The list goes on and on.

What may be of some help is to take out pen and pencil and begin writing down your good points that you feel are your strengths. We have already done this, but it still remains an excellent exercise no matter how often you do it.

What do you remember as strengths before being aware that you are depressed? Going to Depressed Anonymous meetings has the potential to restore your sense of proportion about your strong points. At the meetings your friends in the fellowship will begin to tell you are showing improvement the more you are participating in the meetings. To listen to those who themselves are working the program and who share their lives week after week, you begin to realize that you too can begin to feel differently. Today can be a new start and yes, you do have it within yourself to be that person who is reversing old negative patterns of thinking and replacing them with thoughts of hope and optimism. You now believe that there is hope for yourself. Right now your strength seems to be that of maintaining a habitual way of thinking thoughts of hope. By the fact that you are reading this, takes the strength to want to feel good and continue to maintain a positive recovery. Begin now and reflect on your strengths. Believe that you have a way to maintain a personal persistence and desire to continue with gratitude for this new feeling of hope.”

NOTE: Take your pen and/or pencil and begin writing your thoughts down in response to the questions posed in the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK. Depressed Anonymous Publications.

Resources

Copyright © Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2020) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY. Pages 57-59.

Copyright © The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. KY.

Copyright © Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.

These basic books of the Depressed Anonymous Fellowship can be ordered online.

See: www.depressedanon.com

Literature Available

To receive a mailing of Depressed Anonymous literature, send a Self addressed stamped envelope to: DAP, Box 465, Pewee Valley, Kentucky. 40056.

The material can be used as “handouts” at your local Depressed Anonymous meetings.

Get out of “park” and put ‘er in first

Hey, so good of you to come to our BLOG here at Depressed Anonymous website. We try and give encouragement to those of us “who are still suffering from depression.” And let me tell you, we are not alone. Again, we are not alone. We all have work to do. I have work to do – you have work to do. We are in this together.

Have you ever felt like, “what’s the use” or “I just can’t seem to get into gear.” Many days in my life, some more recent. I just feel like I want to stay in “park.” I can’t get in gear. My mind says “let’s get in gear.” My body says, “No, I feel comfortable right where I am at.” So there is the problem. How to put my body in first gear so as to get moving?

I think all of us have heard the saying about making it to a 12 Step meeting. It goes like this: There are two times I should go to my 12 Step meeting. One, when I want to go to a meeting and two, when I don’t want to go to a meeting. That sort of breaks It down in a language that I get. Simple. Basic. No gobblygook nonsense. That’s what I call getting in first gear. We get the car (body) moving. We don’t go to the remote or surf and expect anything that might do us any good. We put another quarter in the “parking meter.”

In the book “I’ll do it when I feel better,” I write about procrastination. I know about it. I lived it. If you want to know anything about procrastination, I’m you’re “go to guy.” Most days I get that little red flag that pops up in the meter. Expired. And when that happens you never have seen me move so fast. Out of park in record time.

This is one of my character defects. I am blatant at it. It might be a hidden anger problem–you know, I really don’t want to go to work today. So my body wants to slip back into “park.” So, where am I going with all this?

Let me tell you this. When I was depressed my life was definitely past “park” and I just gave up. What’s the use. Eventually, coming to my senses, I knew that I needed help. I ended up in a 12 Step group. This move was the best move I have ever made in my life. Really. The fellowship, but most importantly putting the spiritual principals of the 12 Steps got me moving toward health, sanity and a program of self-care that has been my moving force for most of my adult life. For that I am grateful to the God of my understanding or my Higher Power.

Are you depressed. If so, join us. We are online everyday with our fellowship. We are the Depressed Anonymous fellowship. Everyday, I hear and see good people doing good things for those others, like ourselves, now, who have found a “spark plug” if you will in the leadership of all those lives which have been changed. I mean CHANGE. Hear the good news. There is hope. I can hear good news everyday. Set your watch. Go to a SKYPE or ZOOM meeting and hear how others have got moving. They are on it and now they want to help others. If you are out there and wanting to feel differently and live with hope, check us out online.

Fire up that body of yours and your mind will follow right along. For info on our fellowship, please come to this website (www.depressedanon.com) and read and listen and be part of a world where hope starts and resides. Be part of the solution. ZOOM and SKYPE groups are looking forward to meeting you. Don’t wait. We are like you.

Hugh, a recovering procrastinator and member of the DA fellowship.